How Canada Fought Bad Copyright Law: Showing Why Copyright Law Matters

from the sit-back-and-watch dept

You may recall, just about a year ago, there was suddenly a bunch of news over the possibility of Canada introducing its own version of the US's Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). To the surprise of both the entertainment industry (who helped craft the law) and the politicians who were pushing it, the opposition to this law was incredibly successful in getting its message out. Starting with calls on various blogs and Facebook groups, kicked off by law professor Michael Geist, the issue became a big one throughout the media. The politicians who promised the entertainment industry that they would pass this law tried to delay the introduction, assuming that the opposition, while loud, was thin and would fade away. They were wrong. The issue continued to get attention, and when the law was finally introduced, the opposition, across the board, was widespread and strong. It wasn't just a fringe issue among "internet activists." It was something that people from all over the economy saw as a fundamental issue worth fighting for.

But why?

For years, copyright (and wider intellectual property) law has been considered to be sort of inside baseball, something that only lawyers and the entertainment industry cared about. But that's been changing. There are a variety of reasons for why this happened and why copyright is considered a key issue for so many people in so many parts of the economy. Michael Geist has now put together a film that tries to examine that question. After first discussing how the issue became such a big deal, Geist interviews a number of Canadian copyfighters to get a sense of why copyright is an issue worth fighting about:
Not surprisingly, Geist has also made the movie available in a variety of different formats so people can do what they want with it, including remixing or re-editing it. There's the full version (seen above), an annotated version, a version for subtitling, or you can download the full movie via BitTorrent at either Mininova or Vuze. Unless, of course, you live somewhere where they claim that BitTorrent is evil and must be blocked.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Comboman, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 5:07am

    How Canada Got Lucky

    The bill didn't fail because of opposition from citizens groups, it failed because there was no time to push it through before the election. Due to a minority government and no-confidence vote, Canada may now end up with a coalition government or yet another election; but trust me, regardless of who wins, when the dust settles the copyright bill will be back. It might even get tied to an economic stimulus package, making it difficult for the opposition to vote against.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    NullOp, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 5:42am

    Ain't dead yet

    Yep, there is just too much money in media for the business side of entertainment to let a kid have the music he bought in the first place where he wants it. Now free, unpaid distribution of an intellectual work is wrong. But the draconian measures to stop the use of what you've bought is also wrong. Its like buying a TV then having the mfg saying you can only use it in the living room.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    ScytheNoire, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 6:01am

    One way to fix all government

    Here's a quick easy fix to all government, put any politician who associates with lobbyists in jail and make lobbying illegal.

    I'm so sick of special interest groups dictating how things are done. It's not about "the people", it's all about "the corporation". While people are suffering financially, all these corporations get free money for their screw ups, while no one helps the people.

    I'm so sick of governments, in general. The corruption is outrageous these days, because it's not even a secret any more, it's right in our faces. They take a crap right on us, day after day. We need a revolution.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 6:38am

    Re: One way to fix all government

    So you don't like how protesters of the Prop 8 have acted? The sad thing is that you all sound like that South Park episode with the hippies and blaming everything on the corporations.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    inc, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 6:41am

    Very nice video. It just goes to show how the original intention of copyright has become so perverted by corporations.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    PeterG, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 6:43am

    Weak government is the real reason.

    We have had minority governments (thank FSM) which means that nothing can be rammed through. If we had a majority this would have passed without question regardless of the protest.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 7:27am

    lobbying illegal

    Lets lobby for this. but really, it is BS

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 7:52am

    "The sad thing is that you all sound like that South Park episode with the hippies and blaming everything on the corporations."

    Hippies do blame things on corporations. Nevertheless, there is quite a bit of government and law out there specifically to stop corporations from doing things that harm the public (financially and physically).

    Copyright law is one area where the will of the people is ignored in favor of lobbyist concerns.

    The question is would an informed populace (the people) support copyright reform, or is it really the realm of lawyers and insiders?

    In Canada the answer is yes, we want less copyright, not more.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    bshock, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 7:58am

    begging the question

    The phrase "bad copyright law" might imply that there is such a thing as "good copyright law."

    This might only be possible if there were laws to outlaw the inherently corrupt idea of copyright.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Valkor, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 8:13am

    Re: begging the question

    Copyright law can be good law if it does what the Founding Fathers actually intended: if it promotes the progress of science and useful arts. The current system clearly does not have that as a focus, but there are still benefits in having reasonably short copyright terms.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    bigpicture, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 9:25am

    Re: One way to fix all government

    This is about copyRIGHT, a special legal right that is granted to a few, and usually not to individuals but to corporations. I some cases corporations seem to have more rights than individuals, and even more political influence by lobby that by citizen vote.

    The subject of the absurdity of any kind of legal "special right" is largely ignored. The only rights that anyone actually has are not "inherent or inalienable rights" but the rights granted by the rest of society only.

    In the US the founding fathers recognized this "equal rights" versus (special rights, special interests, special privileges, power and corruption) conundrum, that it may only be maintainable by the "right to bear arms" and by revolution. "The Power Corrupts, and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely" thing is always there, threat of revolution is the only thing (and not inherent human fairness) that keeps it in check.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re: begging the question

    There's some argument whether any copyright system really "promotes the progress." There may be benefits to "reasonably short copyright terms," but I'm not sure (m)any of them are benefits for The Public. Necessity is the mother of invention; where there's a need, someone will work to fill that need.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    another mike, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 3:52pm

    bittorrent and isp

    my isp "tweaks" bittorrent traffic and it goofs with my world of warcraft sessions.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 4:09pm

    Re: Ain't dead yet

    NullOp wrote:

    Now free, unpaid distribution of an intellectual work is wrong.

    Assuming you’re a Microsoft Windows user, the last time you got downloaded software updates from Microsoft (like a new version of Internet Explorer or the latest Service Pack), did you pay Microsoft any money for them? So wasn’t that “free, unpaid distribution” of Microsoft’s “intellectual works”? And was it wrong?

    One reason why so many debates about copyright and patent and related issues end up going nowhere is because of the number of people who shoot their mouth off before engaging their brain like this...

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 4:10pm

    Re: One way to fix all government

    ScytheNoire wrote:

    Here's a quick easy fix to all government, put any politician who associates with lobbyists in jail and make lobbying illegal.

    Would you lobby for that?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2008 @ 4:48pm

    "Now free, unpaid distribution of an intellectual work is wrong. But the draconian measures to stop the use of what you've bought is also wrong. Its like buying a TV then having the mfg saying you can only use it in the living room."

    What about if I said your friend isn't allowed to watch the TV at the same time you are. That's free, unpaid distribution.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    pat donovan, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 4:39am

    DMR canada

    the conservatives invented new rights for corps, such as ISP snooping.. (which only CSIS is allowed to do for movies.
    AND nasty penitiles
    and heavy restrictions on usgae.
    only money is better protected.

    shall I tell you about the new form of govt they put in place too?

    pat

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Wow!, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 8:46am

    Wow

    Geist needs to get over himself!

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    David, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 10:43am

    Conservatives

    If we ever have a majority conservative government, we're screwed in more ways than one. I hope they're removed from power soon.

    They always want to play Big Brother and "protect" us with their ridiculous laws.

    I really despise the PC party for exactly that. I wouldn't vote for them under any circumstances.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    John Wilson, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 2:43pm

    Re: How Canada Got Lucky

    Actually because the bill hadn't passed third reading before the election it died on the order paper.

    So, should Harper, or anyone else, seek to reintroduce it it will have to go through the whole route again including in Committee in second reading where the government has less influence than it has in the Commons.

    Of course, it would have to make it through the Senate too should the old farts there wake up long enough to realize what's going on. :-)

    My guess is that it's as good as dead and buried for some time to come.

    ttfn

    John

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    John Wilson, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Ain't dead yet

    It's dead, deader than a doornail at 40 below left out in the snow.

    The sale and distribution of music in Canada has never really amounted to a hill of beans compared to south of the border though some artists have been convinced to get on the bandwagon for this. Significantly a larger number of artists, mostly younger ones, opposed it.

    So, in fact, did a huge section of the Canadian industrial and service sector as well as the news media on the grounds that there was no safe harbour provision in the proposed act.

    Let's not forget the near unanimous opposition of Canadian Universities and other higher learning institutions.

    The list goes on and on and on.

    As does the significant, if uncomfortable fact, that Canada has not signed onto the proposed treaty that the bill was supposedly responding to.

    If the Tories can single handedly ignore the fact that we are signatories to Kyoto why in hell would anyone believe us if we signed onto ACT, piece of junk that it is.

    Anyway, I'm starting to doubt we'll see a majority government for the forseeable future, Grit or Tory, so I think this thing is dead and gone.

    ttfn

    John

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    John Wilson, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 3:10pm

    Re: DMR canada

    Bit of a news flash, pat, CSIS isn't around to protect the MPAA it's job is national security.

    Anyway, if it's anyone's job it belongs to the RCMP's commercial crime section.

    Anyway the act that would have made all this possible died on the order paper when the election was called which ended the parliament that it was introduced in. None of this came to pass.

    And money is protected these days? What money? :)

    ttfn

    John

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Dec 6th, 2008 @ 12:12am

    Nitpick

    Fascinating stuff. However, one or two interviewees kept saying “anti-circumvention” when they meant “circumvention”. Thus, they said they were against banning “anti-circumvention” of DRM, when in fact they were against the opposite.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    lucifer, Dec 7th, 2008 @ 12:01am

    let them try

    Canadians associations try to close demonoid they can't, let them try anything, soon or later someone is going to brake the securities as always they closed one door and the people will find 10 more doors, soon or later there will be such much people sharing knowledge and data that all this associations will get tired, and if they won't get tired people will just make them disappear soon or later, we have a lot of time

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    eramosa, Dec 12th, 2008 @ 11:17pm

    i.p. stuff

    Human beings like their stuff. We like to have as much stuff as we can get our opposable thumbs on. We really like it when we can get free stuff. But don't take our stuff; it's ours. If you want my stuff, you have to give me some other stuff. If I spend say a year writing a bunch of stuff on paper so somebody can make a movie or a book out of it, I'm going to need some stuff like food and clothes so I can survive long enough to write all the stuff down. If somebody just takes my written stuff, then I won't want to write any more stuff because I will have to do other stuff that pays me stuff in return so I can stay alive and stuff. It's not that complicated. Maybe we don't like having laws because it limits the stuff we can do, but don't you think we need laws and rules and stuff to prevent people from stealing our stuff, and so we know the different ways we're allowed to get more stuff? If we want some music to listen to while we're doing stuff, or want to watch a movie or read a book, should we get that stuff for free? Maybe we should. Maybe we should get all our stuff for free. But you can't have MY stuff. Our laws deal with that stuff. Copyright law isn't bad or wrong, it's just struggling to keep up with all the technological stuff we're inventing. So help it catch up by getting some really smart people to think their way through it and stuff. Or you come up with an idea and tell us how it'll work. Otherwise - stuff it.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Magnus Holmgren, Dec 17th, 2008 @ 2:26pm

    Re: i.p. stuff

    iramosa, you get an A for style, but an F for substance, for you make all the common errors. You equate intangible goods with physical property, and copying with stealing. It's not the same thing at all. You paint a black-and-white picture: either we have very strict copyright laws or there will be no way to make any money from creative works and thus no works will ever be created. It's not that simple. Nobody's suggesting that copyright be abolished altogether.

    You conclude that copyright has to "catch up" with technology, i.e. you see technology as a threat that has to be curbed rather than an opportunity. The new playing field may mean that you will have to come up with new strategies. That's how it usually works in a market economy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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